Salmon Arm is feeling the heat of the Okanagan and Lower Mainland real estate markets.
Limited inventory and increasing demand for housing in the Shuswap city have created an unprecedented seller’s market in which homeowners are receiving multiple offers and homes are selling for above the asking price.
“There was one that just sold yesterday,” said ReMax’s Linda Rohlfs. “The list price was $449,000. It was on the market three days and it sold for $486,597. So it sold for more than $40,000 more. And I’m talking about a 65-year-old house on a third of an acre.”
According to Rohlfs, who has been helping people buy and sell homes in the area for 39 years, it has become common for a property to go on the market and have five or six prospective buyers put in bids.
“It’s unprecedented; we haven’t had that market at all,” said Rohlfs, noting the situation can be a catch-22 for sellers who may wish to take advantage of the market, but find with its limited inventory that there’s nowhere for them to go.
In addition to multiple bids, buyers are also limiting or eliminating their “subject to” clauses, including home inspection, in order to secure a property.
“That’s always worrisome because you’ve viewed it but you’re buying without doing your due diligence because you want to be the bidder that has less subjects on it,” said Rohlfs.
Tina Cosman, with Royal LePage, is seeing and experiencing the same challenges.
“I’ve been licensed for 13-and-a-half years and this is the first time I’ve experienced anything like this,” said Cosman. “We’ve gone through good markets where multiple offers did occur, but not to this extent, not at this level.”
Cosman said recent statistics show 59 per cent of Salmon Arm homebuyers were from the Shuswap, North and Central Okanagan, 20 per cent from the Lower Mainland (including Vancouver Island), 11 per cent were from Alberta and then the balance were a mix from Northern B.C. and other provinces.
Both Cosman and Rohlfs said the greatest demand in Salmon Arm right now is properties selling in the range of $400,000 to $600,000.
“We are more reasonable, more affordable than Kelowna, we are more affordable than Vernon, but again, our prices are going up,” said Cosman, noting buyers and sellers should be aware that the latest property values released by the BC Assessment Authority might already be outdated. She said a better determiner of a property’s value is comparable properties that sold recently.
“In the market we’re experiencing right now, you don’t want to go back six months because what happened six months ago is no longer reality for us. Our market is changing very rapidly,” said Cosman.
While she embraces the challenge of the changing market, Cosman recognized that it can create stress for both buyers and sellers. She encouraged both to find a realtor who can carry much of the burden of that stress.
“It can be very intense with how quickly things are going,” said Cosman. “Even having a conversation with a realtor so you understand what’s happening and what to expect, I think that’s key to minimizing your stress level because if you have the information and you’re prepared, that goes a long way.”